With 40-plus offices and more expected in its growth plan, ENT and Allergy Associates needed a high-performance IT infrastructure that could easily expand to support its doctors and staff.
The group migrated its electronic health records and practice management systems to a private virtual hosting platform, helping to improve user performance while cutting costs and boosting reliability and scalability.
“By moving into a private virtual environment located in the secure and redundant data center infrastructure of NTT DATA, we’re confident we have boosted reliability, ensured security and compliance, and gained virtually unlimited scalability for future expansion.”
The complexities inherent in delivering the highest-quality healthcare in the U.S. seem to be growing every day. It’s hard enough to keep up with advancements in clinical protocols, pharmaceuticals and medical technologies, but when government regulations and insurance reporting requirements are added, it’s small wonder that many solo doctors and small practices are joining much larger ones. Such is the case with ENT and Allergy Associates (ENTA), headquartered in Tarrytown, New York, with 40-plus clinical locations throughout New York and New Jersey.
In addition to a body of industry-leading clinical expertise and market-proven, practice-building protocols, ENTA offers its doctors scale. The practice consists of more than 180 physicians, who see more than 80,000 patients a month. They are supported in their mission to deliver high-quality healthcare by a team of 10 IT professionals headed by Rick Keifer, senior director of technology at ENTA. “ENTA has built its reputation as the nation’s foremost ear, nose, throat, allergy, audiology and sleep practice by delivering superior care with unparalleled same-day access,” he explains. “In all, our doctors cover about a dozen subspecialties, and IT’s job is to help them perform their best for every patient, every day.” According to Keifer, the medical specialty group practice has been on a steep growth curve in recent years, and he expects it to continue. “When I began as a consultant here in 2008, we had just 24 offices, and now we have nearly twice that many,” he says. “Our use of the smartest technology has been a critical success factor for us, along with our ability to cost-effectively scale technology in line with, or even ahead of, our coming growth.”
Core to ENTA’s ability to grow and continue to attract the very best specialists in the nation has been its use of a pair of systems from NextGen Healthcare for electronic health records (EHR) and electronic practice management (EPM). The practice first implemented the systems in 2004, assisted by a predecessor organization of NTT DATA.
“NTT DATA may have gone through some name changes since we first engaged them in 2003, but they’re always improving and remain a strategic partner,” Keifer says. “In fact, our relationship is stronger than ever.”
Confirming that bond, Keifer adds that ENTA recently signed a new five-year agreement with NTT DATA, after evaluating competitive alternatives. “NTT DATA earns our trust each day like it’s Day One, but it’s our responsibility to evaluate what else is out there,” he says. “Despite lower bids from some vendors, we re-signed with NTT DATA because the fit is so good. They are truly an extension of my team.”
While the partnership remains in place, the new agreement signals a clear shift to the virtual hosting arena for ENTA. For years, ENTA had operated its data center in a shared domain with NTT DATA helping to manage it. Now, ENTA migrated its NextGen applications to a private virtual environment that is hosted with multiple redundancies in highly secure NTT DATA centers.
“It’s hard to put an exact number on it, but, over the life of our agreement, moving our core apps to a private virtual solution with the help and experience of NTT DATA should save us millions in capital expense avoidance and headcount,” Keifer says. Keifer is also ENTA’s security officer in charge of security compliance with regulations related to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 and HITECH as it relates to EHR technology. The mission is data privacy and an EHR system that can improve patient care quality securely.
“By moving into a private virtual environment located in the secure and redundant data center infrastructure of NTT DATA, we’re confident we have boosted reliability, ensured security and compliance, and gained virtually unlimited scalability for future expansion,” Keifer says. With their administrative burden further relieved by the virtual environment, ENTA’s IT team can now focus more on innovations that help doctors provide better patient care. One example is enabling physicians to log into NextGen EHR using just a fingerprint single sign-on, from any room, whether in clinical or office settings, in any of ENTA’s locations. “We’re always looking for ways to increase doctor and staff performance to ultimately enhance patient care and outcomes,” Keifer says. “Our partnership with NTT DATA will help us continue to do that for years to come.”